Chronic Kidney Disease Chapter 4

When Kidneys Decline


What Do Kidneys Do?

Your kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped, fist-sized organs found toward the back of your upper abdomen. About 20% of the blood pumped out by your heart goes directly to the kidneys via the renal artery. The kidneys perform a remarkable number of tasks. Every day, your kidneys filter over 50 gallons of blood, removing toxins and metabolic wastes along with excess water, and returning needed substances to the blood. Wastes leave your body in urine, carried by tubes called ureters from your kidneys to your bladder. Urine is stored in the bladder until it exits your body through the urethra. READ MORE

Your kidneys also ensure that the right levels of chemicals like potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate are maintained in your bloodstream and help to control your blood pressure as well. They change vitamin D into calcitrol, which helps the intestines absorb more calcium and phosphorous. And if that weren't enough, they manufacture a hormone, erythropoietin (EPO) that stimulates the production of red blood cells. LESS


Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the slow loss of kidney function over time. It is a very common disease: in the US, it affects more than 10% of the adult population—that’s more than 20 million people. Of those, more than half a million people are under treatment for end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure. READ MORE

Many people are unaware they have CKD, because there may be few if any symptoms in its early stages. In fact, there may be no symptoms until kidney function is one tenth of normal.

Diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) are the two most common causes of CKD and account for most cases. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for about 44% of the people who begin treatment for kidney failure each year. LESS

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